Christian McCaffrey's costly fumble in Super Bowl still weighs 'heavy' on 49ers' star, coach says

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey is widely regarded as one of the best players in the NFL. He led the league in rushing yards in 2023 and played a key role in the Niners’ run to Super Bowl LVIII.

McCaffrey’s and the 49ers’ opening drive in this past February’s Super Bowl looked promising — until the star running back committed a costly turnover a few yards shy of the red zone.

The Kansas City Chiefs went on to defeat the 49ers in overtime, earning the right to the franchise’s second consecutive Vince Lombardi Trophy. While more than three months have passed since the Super Bowl was played, the fumble appears to still weigh “heavy” on McCaffrey.

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49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner seems to understand McCaffery’s apparent push to play as close to perfect whenever he is on the football field. But the veteran coach also knows the mistake has the potential to have long-term impacts on the ball carrier if it lingers on his mind.

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“I talked to him at the same time it happened when he came off the football field because you have to,” Turner said, per NBC Sports. “You have to be able to let it go, but it’s one of those things you take personally because it’s very important to him. The ball is everything. He is carrying this whole organization — his family, my family. He is carrying that football. It’s heavy.”

Turner added that ball security is routinely a topic of conversation for the 49ers.

“I always talk about how much it weighs, how long it is, the nickname on it, ‘The Duke,’ ” Turner said. “You’re carrying ‘The Duke’ around. [McCaffrey] takes a lot of pride in that. Every time he touches the ball, he is trying to protect it, and unfortunately, that happened.”

While McCaffrey has yet to participate in the Niners voluntary offseason program, Turner is confident the three-time All-Pro will be ready when he does arrive at the team’s facilities.

Turner said McCaffrey’s commitment to the game was on full display in 2023, his first full season with the 49ers.

“He was here every day last year from Day 1 and he was constantly in my office, or we were texting or talking to each other,” Turner said.

The 49ers open the 2024 regular season on Sept. 9 when Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets travel to Santa Clara.

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